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What Real Rewards Look like for Your Team -- and how they drive Engagement.
April 17th, 2019
"While other companies like me were giving their employees $50 gift cards, I was awarding several thousand dollar bonuses."
Plenty of owners are in on the "reward your employees" strategy. We get it, it makes sense, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any leader who doesn't agree that employees need some form of reward for their hard work.

There's a buzzword in business internal strategy today, and companies are spending thousands on trainings, consultants, seminars, and the like to crack the code for this word. 

I'm talking about engagement. 

When we talk engagement, we mean the employee who really cares about the work they're doing. It's the employee who's willing to put in the hours, who's committed to the vision, and who deeply cares about the business... maybe even as much as you do. 

It's not fluff or fantasy -- the most successful companies have solved the engagement riddle, and their results show. 

Chick-Fil-A, the company that hasn't had a down year in its history save one (during the housing recession), also boasts a retention rate 40% higher than its competitors for its full time employees. 

Southwest Airlines is no different, often earning a sort of fanfare status by its frequent flyers and even placing as the top airline compared to its major competitors in a recent 2018 report. 

The common thread in both these companies? They don't just say they value their employees -- they show they do by rewarding them for their accomplishments. 

My brother-in-law just got back from a trip with his company. You could call it a work trip, but really it was a vacation. 

His company's goals, KPIs, whatever you want to call them -- he and his team nailed them. So what did the owner do? He could have given some shout-outs at a company wide meeting, and maybe even handed out the occasional giftcard. 

Instead, he took the entire staff to Cozumel. 350+ employees. And their spouses. To a beach resort. All expenses paid. 

I've found that owners in general have very different meanings of the word, "reward". If you suggested a beach vacation, they may laugh you out of the room. 

A lot of owners pat themselves on the back for a $50 gift card, or a coupon for coffee... but this lacks the urgency we need in today's workplace. I opened this article with words from someone who awards several thousand dollar bonuses each year -- the quote comes from a good friend of mine who has successfully built a multi-million dollar business. When it comes to rewarding employees -- she gets it. 

What I've found to be true is that a lot of owners don't get it. In fact, sometimes I talk to owners who say, "How can I really reward this employee?" and what they really mean is, "Other than pay them more money, how can I really reward this employee?" 

This isn't to mean that every employee wants money. Some don't. Some want more flexible hours, or more vacation time. That's fine -- when your employee opts for those things. 

Regardless of the form it takes -- companies that want great results need great rewards, and it's been the foundation of how many high performing companies drive engagement in their own teams. 

Do you want to make similar strides with your own company? Want engaged employees who are invested in your success? Here's some takeaways: 

1) Money talks. I get it -- it's not sexy. It sounds shallow. But it means something to have to worry about one less bill. It means something for the mortgage payment to be a little easier to bear. Beyond even financial stress -- people want to be recognized for their hard work; and if they especially are contributing significantly to your bottom line, they want to share in that success. 

Don't want to just give your employees more money? That's fine -- but at least give them something that really screams, "Thank you!" Right now, the bar is set at an all-expenses-paid vacation to Cozumel. How will you compete? 

2) Tie rewards to performance. You're agreeing to reward your employees with their fair share. You're telling people, "I'm paying what you've earned." So, make it clear what those KPIs are. What are your company goals for this year? What are you expecting people to do? If they make it happen -- reward them accordingly. Do you want big results for your company? That'll take big rewards. 

3) The best employees know their worth. There's no secret sauce to attracting the best talent. We don't need an over-complicated strategy for this -- if you want great people, you need to be prepared to pay them accordingly. 


As you look at your own company, you may be thinking that there's no space for a rewards system. Maybe you feel like you're company is barely keeping it together as it is. 

To be successful in the long-term, you'll need a high-powered team that is engaged and committed in the short term. 

That may mean aggressively solving the dysfunction in the day-to-day. Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to have employees pay the price for said dysfunction rather than bear the cost for sustainable, real success.
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About Good Advice
We left the corporate consulting world to help business owners grow and scale their businesses. Through strategy development and management advice, we partner with owners to take their businesses to the next level. 

About Author: Blake Binns

I give a common-sense approach to business management with real, practical steps so you can grow. 
Copyright 2019